Triggerfish (Balistidae) are a family of fishes in the order Tetraodontiformes. The body is large, flattened and covered with dense bony scales. The teeth are strong, conical or lamellar. The first barb of the dorsal fin is strong, rigidly attached to a second barb. Covers 10 genera and 30 species. Marine fishes of tropical and subtropical waters. Lives in shallow waters between coral reefs. Feed on corals, molluscs, sea urchins, crabs and vegetation. Flesh of triggerfish is poisonous. In Russia, Balistes capriscus is occasionally found in the Black Sea.
Body length ranges from 13 cm to 1 m. Triggerfish have a rather large, flattened body at the sides. The body usually has a pattern of large spots or stripes. Colours include black, blue, yellow, silver and white. Members of the family inhabit tropical and subtropical seas of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, especially coral reefs. The grey triggerfish is also found in the Mediterranean. Triggerfish feed on benthic invertebrates such as molluscs and echinoderms.
The first dorsal fin, which is folded in the resting state and is unnoticeable in many species, contains three large spines, the longest of which is the first. The second spine acts as a lock. In case of danger, the fish spreads the fin and the second spine is shifted slightly upwards, from where the first two spines are fixed and it is impossible to fold the dorsal fin without breaking the spines. To fold the dorsal fin itself, the fish must lower the second spike. The English name "triggerfish" can be literally translated as "trigger fish" or "fish with a latch" (the word trigger also referred to the brake on a carriage, arranged in a similar way).
The teeth are adapted for chewing and biting sea urchin shells, molluscs, etc. Triggerfish can be aggressive when guarding their eggs and can inflict considerable bites on divers.